Valerie Comer joins us today to share a little bit about her faith, her farm, and her fiction. Valerie’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local food movement as well as their church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.
Valerie writes Farm Lit where food meets faith, injecting experience laced with humor into her stories.
Welcome Valerie! Please share with us about faith, food and fiction.
Does God Care What We Eat? When most people hear this question, the first thing that comes to mind is the Bible saying gluttony is a sin. Most of us would rather not think too deeply on that one. Perhaps the second thing is whether or not we should eat food that’s been sacrificed to idols—not something the average North American deals with on a daily basis.
What if I told you I believe there’s much more to it than that? What if we realize that much of what we consume is making the temple of God (our bodies) unhealthy? What if we think about how our choices affect other people around the world? The people who harvest our coffee, for instance, but don’t get biohazard suits to wear while working with dangerous chemicals? What about the children sold into slavery to enable our addiction to cheap chocolate? (Google cocoa + slavery.)
A simple solution is to commit to purchasing only organic fair-trade coffee and chocolate/cocoa. Yes, it is more costly to us, but far less costly to others. The difficult solution is tackling the problems at their source. How can the world be changed? It’s such a big job.
My husband and I own a small farm in British Columbia, Canada. We have some livestock, about 15 hives of bees (we recently cut back from 55!), and a large garden. Thankful to live in a grain-growing, fruit-growing area, we’re committed to sourcing as much food as possible locally, whether from our farm or others. We’re learning what we can live without and what we need to source ethically (apparently we’re not ready to go caffeine free!) We freeze, can, and dehydrate vast amounts of food. Our adult children are as committed as we are, and it’s a delight to this grandmother’s heart to see my little granddaughters being raised on wholesome real food.
“They” say to write what you know. I’m so thankful to know the Lord Jesus. I know farms. I know local food, with both the strengths and the problems of a wide-spreading movement that includes a resurgence in farmers’ markets and vegetable “box” programs (aka CSA—community supported agriculture). For me, writing Farm Lit is a natural reflection of my life and what I’m passionate about.
It’s also a way I can help make a difference for those suffering because of my society’s food choices. I can draw awareness. I can fight for their rights through fiction, to readers who might otherwise never give a thought to their plight.
It turns out I’m a fairly unique blend of farmer, local food advocate, Christian, and author. I stumbled around in the first few novels I wrote as I learned craft and how to find my writing sweet spot. These things finally came together in my first farm lit novel, which attracted a great deal of positive attention. Turns out it was just a bit too different—too controversial—for the big houses to take a chance on.
Choose NOW Publishing is the new house on the block. They are actively seeking issue-driven fiction. Apparently Raspberries and Vinegar, first in the Farm Fresh Romance series, qualifies on that count! I’m honored to debut their fiction line with my novel.
Raspberries and Vinegar finds Josephine Shaw and her friends renovating a dilapidated farm with their sights set on more than just their own property. Transforming the town with their sustainable lifestyle and focus on local foods is met with more resistance than they expected, especially by temporary neighbor, Zachary Nemesek. Jo needs to learn that a little sweet makes the tart more tasty.
Is this a hardcore environmentalist story? Not at all. I took the opportunity to explore specific issues from a variety of angles, some agreeable and some antagonistic, but wrapped up in a humorous contemporary inspirational romance. I gave my main character a Chihuahua attitude—lots of yap and stubbornness—then tempered it with others around her telling her to settle down and be less radical.
The other two novels in this series will release in 2014. I’m so excited to finally be able to share these stories that have played in my head for the last several years.
What about you? Have you ever thought about where food meets faith? What does it mean for you?